To anyone who watches three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi play soccer on a weekly basis for FC Barcelona, it’s shocking to hear the criticism leveled at the little genius when he suits up for Argentina.
However, the Associated Press reports that those days of criticism may be over, as Messi is now “producing magic” for Argentina, too. The 25-year-old scored two goals and set up another in a resounding 3-0 victory at home to reigning Copa America champion Uruguay.
''Messi is playing exceptional soccer,'' Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said after the Uruguay match. ''He's really, really inspired and the group around him is responding.”
The Barcelona man has now scored four times in four World Cup qualifiers this year and is tied for the Conmebol scoring lead alongside teammate Gonazalo Higuain and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez with six goals. Messi is already fourth on Argentina’s all-time scoring list with 30 goals; he trails only Diego Maradona, third on the list with 33, Hernan Crespo with 35, and Gabriel Batistuta, the record holder with 54.
Argentina, the Conmebol leader with 17 points, plays Chile in Santiago tonight.